Axelrod Blames Job Data on Inaction by Congress

President Barack Obama’s chief political strategist David Axelrod blamed last week’s worse- than-forecast job numbers on Congress’s failure to act on the administration’s job-creation proposals.

“If you look at this jobs report, manufacturing is up, the best record in two decades, largely because of what the president did relative to the auto industry,” Axelrod said on CBS’s “Face the Nation” today. “What was down was construction, what was down was education -- the very things the president has been trying to get Congress to act on were the things that were down.”

Obama’s campaign was hit June 1 by news the unemployment rate last month rose to 8.2 percent from 8.1 percent, as employers added 69,000 jobs -- the fewest in a year and less than the most pessimistic forecast in a Bloomberg News economists’ survey. Manufacturing maintained its expansion and consumers stepped up spending. Construction companies cut 28,000 jobs, the most in two years, according to the report.

Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus called the Obama campaign’s efforts to discredit Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s jobs record as governor of Massachusetts “amusing,” and said Romney has spelled out in detail policies that will help the economy grow.

“They want us to believe that we’re not living on Earth and that the president isn’t the president and all of these things that are going wrong have nothing to do with Barack Obama,” Priebus said later on “Face the Nation.”

Drone Targets

Axelrod also denied a New York Times report May 29 and a recently-published book on foreign policy that said he was present at where the president made decisions on which terrorists were eligible for lethal attacks by U.S. drones.

“I’m flat out asserting that that is not true,” Axelrod told “Face the Nation” host Bob Schieffer. “There were meetings -- I know there were weekly meetings dealing with terrorist threats and planning around it, but I did not attend those meetings.”

Axelrod defended Obama’s efforts to revive the economy and said that while Romney may have been a good businessman, his strategies at Bain Capital aren’t ones that would move the economy forward. Axelrod referred to a Kansas City steel company bought out by the private equity firm when it was run by Romney.

Lost Benefits

“The company ultimately went bankrupt, workers lost their benefits, creditors lost out, and they walked away with millions of dollars,” Axelrod said. “That’s not an economic strategy that’s going to rebuild the middle class in this country, that’s going to grow our economy in the long run.”

Romney’s senior campaign adviser Eric Fehrnstrom said on ABC’s “This Week” that the weaker jobs report shows that the administration’s efforts to revive the economy aren’t working.

“It’s not that we don’t think that this president is trying -- I think he is,” Fehrnstrom told host George Stephanopoulos. “It’s just that his policies are not working.”

Fehrnstrom said Obama was limited by the fact that he “did not have any prior executive leadership experience.”

Economist Paul Krugman, also on “This Week,” said statistics show that the current administration has actually already put into effect tax cuts and lower spending policies advocated by Republicans.

Stimulus Funds

Real government spending is plunging, Krugman said, because states and localities are cutting back as stimulus funds dry up while unemployment benefits expire because of Republican opposition in Congress to extending them.

“We’re actually practicing government austerity on a scale that we haven’t seen in 60 years,” Krugman said.

“Nobody is happy with the rate of job creation today,” Steven Rattner, who headed Obama’s automobile task force, said on “Fox News Sunday.”

“Without the policies that the president put in place, we would not even have this level of job creation,” Rattner said.

Republican strategist Ed Gillespie countered on the same show that the Obama administration has created a “hostile environment for job creation,” citing the administration’s denial of a permit of the Keystone XL pipeline as an example.

Analysts including George Will said Wisconsin’s June 5 special election, when voters will be asked whether to recall Republican Governor Scott Walker and install Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, a Democrat, may foreshadow the national campaign.

Barrett, speaking on CNN’s “State of the Union,” disagreed.

“Scott Walker wants to make this a national race because he wants to be on the national stage as the rock star of the far right, as the poster boy of the Tea Party,” Barret said to host Candy Crowley.

To contact the reporter on this story: Sara Forden in Washington at sforden@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Fred Strasser at fstrasser@bloomberg.net.

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